Bijepur Bypoll: Congress fires ‘Betrayer’ salvo at CM Naveen, Rita Sahu Hits Back

While CM Naveen’s strategy to contest from Bijepur, an attempt to make all efforts to retain the Bargarh LS seat did not work, political analysts believe that the pre-election promises made by the CM may haunt the ruling party in the forthcoming bypoll badly

Bhubaneswar: A day after the ruling-Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha constituted a four-member election coordination team for Bijepur bypoll, Congress MLA Tara Bahinipati today tagged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik as ‘beiman’ and ‘traitor’ for vacating Bijepur Assembly seat. However, former MLA Rita Sahu was fast enough to hit back stating that several developmental works have been taken up by the State government for the all-round development of Bijepur.

Speaking to mediapersons here on Thursday, the Congress legislator said, “Naveen babu has betrayed the people of Bijepur. Pre-election, he told that he was contesting from the Assembly seat for Bijepur adding that the development of Bijepur will be his development and it would be matter of swabhiman (prestige) for him.”

The CM promised, people believed him and voted for the BJD. But Naveen completely betrayed the people of Bijepur after getting elected from the constituency, stated Bahinipati adding,  “Congress and people of Bijepur will strongly protest this beimaini.”

Taking further jibe at the CM, he said the BJD is now solely dependent on the sixth ‘T’ to win the Bijepur bypoll because the 5T (Teamwork, Technology, Transparency, Transformation and Time Limit) of Naveen government failed to bring about transformational change in Bijepur. “The sixth T is tanka (money). As CM Naveen himself has cheated the people of Bijepur, distribution of money is the only option left with the BJD to retain the Assembly seat,” alleged the Congress MLA.

However, lashing out at the allegations of betrayal and lack of development in the Assembly constituency, former Bijepur MLA Rita Sahu said that a slew of projects have already been  announced for the constituency with funds being approved and sanctioned for several projects.

Levelling the CM as a betrayer is unfortunate as several projects have not only been announced but also works on those are on because of the personal intervention of the chief minister. Works on lift irrigation project, Barpali Railway over bridge, Bijepur stadium are on. Besides, renovation of Damodar Kanta has also been done, she said.

Besides, several special packages have also been approved for Barpali and Bijepur NACs. Crores of money have been approved for office buildings, community-cum-SHG Activities centre, kalyan mandap, town hall-cum-auditorium, market complex, construction of vending zones, covered drain, culvert, bus stand, resource recovery centre, park, playground, water supply and rejuvenation of water bodies among other projects, the former BJD MLA added.

Political Parties’ Bypoll Preparations

The BJD is much ahead of all other parties in respect to preparations for the byelection. Speaking on the party preparedness, Kamakshyanagar MLA and Works Minister Prafulla Mallick, who his in-charge of Bargarh district, said that the BJD is always prepared for elections and the party will not have any problem.

The Congress also formed a team, headed by MLA and senior party leader Narasingha Mishra, which has reportedly met people and party workers at the Assembly constituency to chalk out its plan. It is speculated that the Congress will once again field its former Bijepur MLA Ripu Nath Seth from the constituency.

The Bharatiya Janata Party is likely to field Sanath Gartia from the seat as he had got more than 55000 votes during the 2019 polls while contesting against CM Naveen. Besides, former Padampur MLA Pradeep Purohit is also heard to be among the saffron expectants from the seat.

Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Pradipta Naik said ‘whoever the BJP may fields in Bijepur, it will definitely win the seat ‘. “We will teach a lesson to CM Naveen during the upcoming bypoll,” said Naik.

Bijepur is once again preparing itself for another election, the third in little over a year. After the death of MLA Subal Sahu, who won the seat for three consecutive terms, the BJD won the byelection in 2018 by fielding Sahu’s wife Rita who joined the BJD soon after her husband’s demise. Later, during the 2019 general elections, the BJD president and Odisha CM Naveen himself contested and won the Assembly seat.

Who Will be BJD’s Bijepur Candidate for the Bypoll?

Supporters of Rita Sahu have high hopes that the BJD supremo will consider fielding the former MLA once again, who got hardly a year to work for people. Besides, Rita still holds grip in the Assembly constituency and she seems to be the top most contender and also BJD’s favourite for the seat.

Earlier, speculations were rife that Odisha Minister and Bhatli MLA Sushant Singh wanted to pit Bijepur block chairman as the BJD candidate for the seat. However, these rumours have been found to be false and baseless.

Moreover, appointment of Subash Chauhan (whose name was also doing the rounds) as the chairman of the Western Odisha Development Council, has opened the ways for Rita Sahu to be the BJD candidate for the bypoll.